While Valentines Day is a largely a holiday observed by Americans, February 14, or the day of lovers, is also celebrated in many cultures throughout the world. Some customs are quite similar to the United States while others are unique to that particular country. What is true around the world is the Valentines Day gives people the opportunity to reaffirm their love and affection for their significant others, while also expressing gratitude to those who have made a difference in their lives.
Britain is one of the countries who helped to establish the celebration of Valentines Day. In days of old, poets penned romantic verses, including Chaucer who wrote a poem to honor the engagement of Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. Chaucer's poem linked the engagement to the February 14, a traditional day for the mating of birds. Today, the custom of penning verses is still popular with magazines publishing poems which commemorate Valentines Day. In honor of the day, children also sing songs and are rewarded with candies, fruit or money for their efforts. Most adults observe the day with the exchanging of flowers, cards and chocolates.
Like England, French people in the Middle Ages also believed birds began to mate halfway through the second month of the year. For this reason, special love letters and tokens of charm were exchanged on this day. Interestingly, Valentines Day cards are believed to have originated in France. The Duke of Orleans, captured at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, wrote a poem or Valentine to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Valentines Day in Japan is really a double affair and is observed mostly by young people. Women first offer gifts to a significant male on February 14. In return, the woman who gave a gift receives one from the man on White Day, or March 14. Women often receive white chocolate on this day. Chocolate is a very popular gift item; however there are two types of chocolates which are used for Valentines Day. The first, giri-choco means "obligation," and are gifts of chocolate presented to colleagues and close friends. The other, "hon-mei choco" is given to a special man. Many young women believe that if they purchase chocolate at the store for their significant other, it is not true love. So hon-mei choco is typically prepared by the young woman.
It's no surprise in the land of love that Valentines Day is celebrated with much charm and enthusiasm. Centuries ago, the occasion was actually celebrated in the spring - out in the open air - where couples would listen to music and read poetry. Today, the major day for celebrating romantic love in Italy is il giorno della festa degli innamorati and is a day celebrated by couples alone. On Valentines Day couples might exchange flowers or jewelry to charm their loved one. A popular Italian Valentines Day gift is Baci Perugina, which are small chocolate-covered hazelnuts containing a romantic poetic quote.
Valentines Day is most often observed by those between the ages of 16 to 30 in Denmark. The most popular traditions here include a Lover's Card - colorful cards containing a Valentines message. Danes also celebrate by the giving of "snowdrops or white flowers to friends and lovers. Young couples also compose "gaekkebrev," poems that are left unsigned by the giver. A girl who receives such a card and correctly guesses the sender is rewarded with an Easter egg that year.
An extremely popular event, Valentines Day is believed to have been imported to North America by British settlers in the 19th century. The first massed-produced Valentines Day cards were designed by an Esther Howland of Worcester, Massachusetts in 1847. Today, young lovers offer gifts of flowers, chocolate and jewelry to the delight and charm of the receiver.
The exchange of fine jewelry has also been a popular choice in recent decades. While diamonds are often touted as the ultimate piece of jewelry to receive, charm bracelets, necklaces and rings also remain favorites as well. Not surprisingly, Danish-inspired charm bracelets have gained huge popularity in the States, creating a real stir in the jewelry industry. Designed with changeable beads and charms, the bracelets create a distinctive and unique look - a perfect gift for the perfect Valentines Day.
Lewis Jewelers is proud to carry the full line of Pandora Jewelry. Pandora charms, Pandora bracelets and Pandora beads are only a part of the collection. For more information, Lewis Jewelers, 2000 West Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48103, 877-88-LEWIS or visit the website.